School Based Wellness Centers in Action

Categories: health care, Oral health

July 16, 2015 — By Keren Mahgerefteh

As we found a spot to park on a sunny July afternoon, my fellow interns and I crowded into the Jefferson Wellness Center in South Los Angeles.  This Wellness Center is  located on the Jefferson High School campus and is affiliated with South Central Family Health Center.  I was surprised to see the wellness center so busy even though school is out of session.  However, the wellness center also serves community members in South Los Angeles explaining the crowded room.  We were greeted by Dr. Kadar, the dental director  for SCFHC and Dr. Raya Morones the Chief Medical Officer.  They explained the policy of having two doors–one for community members and one for students as to keep students from leaving the campus during school hours.  I found this to be a clever idea given that two different populations/groups of people use the same wellness center but have different needs.  We were given a tour of the wellness center and were able to see the four examination rooms.  We also were shown the dental area which was a different experience than at the Carson Wellness center we toured previously that did not provide oral health care.  It was interesting to learn that 98 percent of  LAUSD  students had cavities when evaluated by the dentist.   I found this alarming being that oral health affects a person’s overall health.
It is also important to teach children and teens how to have good oral hygiene and not neglect that part of their health.  The Jefferson Wellness Center also has mental health services but I was shocked to hear that not many students are accessing these services.  I believe that with an effort to teach students about Minor Consent laws for sensitive services, they will be more willing to access the health services they need. Community members and students have barriers to healthcare access by not having the knowledge that the service is provided.  In particular teens can greatly benefit to know that sensitive services can be provided by a healthcare provider without their parents’ consent. I hope that with the Linked Learning Program I will be able to teach students about Minor Consent Laws and their right to access sensitive services without their parents’ permission and confidentiality being maintained.  I have been learning a lot in this internship so far and hope to learn more about school based health policy through my tenure here at the L.A. Trust for Children’s Health.


KerenKeren Mahgerefteh is a second year Master of Public Policy Student at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.  Keren’s academic and professional interests focus on health policy, in particular providing access and high quality care to vulnerable populations. Currently she serves as a School Health Policy Graduate Student Intern for The L.A. Trust for Children’s Health.  Keren earned her B.A. in Political Science at the University of California, Irvine.


Student Health = Student Success